Return to Transcripts main page


Kim Jong-Un Tours Singapore Ahead Of Trump Meeting; Pompeo: North Korea Talks Moving "Quite Rapidly"; Trump Slams G7 Allies Over Trade Ahead Of Kim Summit. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 11, 2018 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to a special edition of AT THIS HOUR ahead of President Trump's historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. I'm Kate Bolduan in New York. Lucky to have with me for the entire hour Anderson Cooper who is in Singapore. Anderson, less than ten hours to go before this big face to face.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. There's a lot of anticipation certainly, it is 11:00 here at night. We're just hours from a handshake that could make history. The ice from nearly 70 years (inaudible) could be broken when President Trump and Kim Jong-un meet here.

The first summit ever between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. It is certainly unchartered territory, high stakes, global implications. Kim Jong-un is not exactly getting to bed early before his big day on the world stage.

He's been going for a bit of a walk about on the town in Singapore with his entourage, taking in the sites by the bay. Even posing for a selfie with the foreign minister of Singapore. That's the selfie that was taken. I'm not sure how many selfies Kim Jong-un has ever actually been in, but that's certainly one of them.

CNN's Paula Hancocks and Kaitlan Collins are here as well covering all of this. Paula, let's start with you, what do we know about this tour that Kim took tonight? Was that -- I know they had been preparing for it, for several hours.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. Certainly, there has to be some kind of security preparation, roads were closed off, that was the key clue that they were going to be heading out into this city. They had a significant convoy.

There was security there. A lot of security, motorbikes as well. And, first of all, they went to an area which is very popular here, Marine Bay Sands. And Kim Jong-un went to the top of that, we understand, to take in the views of Singapore. It was a mini tour of the tourist hot spots you go to in this city state, which when you think about it, is quite surreal. This is a North Korean dictator that is being shown around Singapore, by the foreign minister. And certainly, what we could see from our vantage point here, he went to his second spot, was that there was some people that were sort of crowding around, trying to take photos, waving at Kim Jong-un as well.

And he looked very pleased and seemed to be enjoying himself as he was walking around. This is really quite significant pictures that we are looking at. This is really the first time we have seen the North Korean leader in this kind of environment.

Yes, he does this with North Korea, but it is highly choreographed, and everyone will be smiling at waving him. He's here now, the furthest he's traveled to Singapore since he took power in North Korea and he's having a walk about in the evening, just before that historic summit with the U.S. President Donald Trump.

New, we can speculate on what this means, does this mean he's feeling confident enough, he doesn't have to prepare, so he's going on this mini tour. The fact is he looks at ease. He looks as though he is enjoying himself.

It is really quite significant as this is the first time that he's done something like this. You would assume a young leader like this would be a little ill at ease. Not quite comfortable with the cameras not necessarily friendly cameras, not just the North Korean cameras, following his every move. But he appears to be quite at ease with what he's doing -- Anderson.

COOPER: Kaitlan, what has President Trump done throughout the day?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Anderson, earlier today the president did meet with the prime minister of Singapore, something we saw as all of that unfolded. This afternoon, it is 11:00 here now in Singapore, this afternoon the White House issued a lid, meaning we weren't likely to see President Trump again today.

And we haven't seen him since. He's been at his hotel in Singapore. He and Kim Jong-un staying at two different hotels, but actually not that far apart, Singapore is actually quite small. But we have not heard from him since then.

We did hear from his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who came to brief reporters earlier today. Essentially to give an overview of what the United States is expecting tomorrow, what they expect to hear from north Korea, but offering no firm commitments from the North Koreans, just hours ahead of that sit-down with president Trump.

But Pompeo did say that they do expect, and they do still want complete denuclearization from the North Koreans.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The ultimate objective we seek from diplomacy with North Korea has not changed. The complete and verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korea Peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept.

[11:05:05] Sanctions will remain until North Korea completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction programs. If diplomacy does not move in the right direction and we are hopeful it will continue to do so, those measures will increase.


COLLINS: So, Pompeo there saying that they have high hopes for that sit-down between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, that is going to be a sit-down that is one on one at the beginning, Anderson, so likely a readout from President Trump, he's going to take questions from reporters after that meeting happens. And then we'll find out exactly, according to President Trump, what happened during that meeting.

COOPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, Paula Hancocks, thank you very much. Joining me now, CNN national security analyst and "New York Times" correspondent, David Sanger, and Elise Hu, the Asia correspondent for NPR.

To see Kim Jong-un walking around like this, I don't know if he's trying to project confidence, I'm not sure if he is confident moving into this, but he really has already achieved a lot from this summit, even before it has begun.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Anderson, just think about where we are in the past couple of months, versus where we were a year or two ago. A year or two ago, the only American we could find that would even talk to Kim Jong-un was Dennis Rodman, OK. He had not met any foreign leaders, he hadn't gone to China, so forth.

Now he's met Xi Jinping twice. He's met the president of South Korea twice including an emergency meeting after President Trump briefly canceled this session. He's going to meet the president of the United States. And he's walking around like a tourist in the middle of Singapore, you know in the evening, taking it in.

You expected him to sort of go find a bar and, you know, find a Singapore sling some place, right? He seemed pretty relaxed. So, this is a different image that he's now projecting from hermit to I'm on stage like the rest of the folks, and if you're looking for legitimacy, he gets it the moment he meets the president.

That's why our objectives are really so different because the meeting itself gives him a good deal of what he wants.

COOPER: Well, Elise, that's one of the reasons former presidents did not actually have one on one meetings with Kim Jong-un, that there were, you know, multi six-party talks they didn't want to give the leader of North Korea the legitimacy unless something was brought to the table first.

ELISE HU, ASIA CORRESPONDENT, NPR: That's true. And we have to keep in mind that the Trump administration is saying that they will get something radically different than what previous administrations have gotten. We will see whether that's going to actually bear out in the next 24 hours or so and in the days and weeks ahead.

However, we have to keep in mind that nothing is divorced from the context that it is in, right? We are under a now progressive Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who has really tried to create the conditions that have led to this moment.

And in a lot of ways has played matchmaker and middle man between the North Koreans and the United States in a way that the previous South Korean administration Park Geun-hye, a conservative government was not interested in.

And I'm sure David will remember just two years ago the South Korean administration was on a campaign to try and get north Korea's diplomatic allies all over the world to end their ties, what a dramatic shift. Now we're in a place where the U.S. is talking about possibly normalizing diplomatic relations.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it is really South Korea which has gotten the U.S. to this point.

SANGER: That's absolutely right, and although you have to give credit to President Trump. I mean, he decided, rightly, I think, that we had tried negotiating with the North Koreans on holding out the possibility they might meet in America, Bill Clinton was thinking of going at the end of his term. And that failed and failed again and failed another time.

COOPER: Just about everything that the U.S. administrations have tried has failed.

SANGER: That's right. Everything has failed. And the president was right to say everything has failed, right to say other presidents kicked this down the road, and I think he's right to give this a shot. That does not mean it is going to work. And, you know, that's a very different thing.

And you got a lot of people, including a lot of the president's supporters, sort of, you know, spiking the ball at this point. We don't know whether Kim Jong-un just wants to get the president at this point into a process that is going to take so long, but while it is going on, he can't turn around and credibly threaten to bomb them. And a lot of the sanctions pressure has lifted already from Russia and China.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, this could, you know -- there's a lot of expectation obviously about tomorrow. But it is very unlikely there will be some sort of joint communique about what was resolved tomorrow, but actual verifiable changes if they ever come won't be for a very, very long time.

HU: Right. If there is a process that begins, a lot of experts believe that will take 10 to 15 years. Kind of start from the halt part to then a roll back and then elimination of their nuclear program. [11:10:03] But from the South Korean perspective, the fact that these two guys are meeting at all is an important start. And engagement and diplomacy is the opposite of what we were seeing in the fall, which was U.S military members having to prepare go bags and South Korea being very concerned that actual military options were being considered and might take place.

So, the fact that this is happening is significant in and of itself, the debate about denuclearization is something we see a lot out of Washington. I can say from this part of the world, there is a lot of cautious optimism that just talking is going to begin a process.

COOPER: There have been meetings running up to this. Probably already working on the communique that will come out of this. Are you surprised at the length of time that is scheduled for President Trump and Kim Jong-un to meet one on one with their translators, without other people around?

SANGER: Well, on the one hand, the fact that they're meeting one on one for that long and what we're hearing is upwards of two hours does sound like a long period of time, but clearly President Trump wants to -- feels as if he can get to know Kim Jong-un, set up a line of communication with him, that's the first big step.

It is the relationship building that he learned in business. That doesn't necessarily mean that when the crisis comes they're really going to be able to get on and talk to each other. Again, worth the try, no American president has tried that before.

And that's what gives this a little bit of the, you know, Nixon's first encounter with Mao or Kennedy and Khrushchev. It is a nuclear power. It is a nuclear power that is made pretty clear if it can't reach the united states now, it is going to be able to pretty soon.

So, it has a little bit of a tinge of those cold war days to it. Whether or not that communique is substantive enough for us to say that a real breakthrough has been made, I have my doubts.

I think one area they will make a lot of progress on is they'll be some declaration they're moving to a peace treaty and away from the armistice that was signed in 1953 that left the Korean war and the sort of suspended state.

But that doesn't take you all that much closer to what Secretary Pompeo is talking about, complete verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.

COOPER: If you're North Korea, why give up your nuclear weapons? I mean, it is -- there is economic things that you would like, there is legitimacy on the world stage, but without a doubt, we wouldn't be here if North Korea was not at the point where they have nuclear weapons.

HU: Well, North Korea has said it is committed to complete denuclearization, but it is not saying it is giving up its nuclear weapons right away. Not by a long shot. And it does want a security guarantee and end to the hostile policy, what they consider a hostile policy by the United States.

That security guarantee part is fascinating in that, you know, Secretary Pompeo in his remarks to the press today said the U.S. was prepared to offer something different and unique on this security guarantee part, what that means, what the specifics of that are is unclear. But that could really kind of change the way this policy is laid out.

COOPER: Elise Hu, David Sanger, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Much more on breaking news from Singapore ahead. First, back to Kate Bolduan in New York -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Anderson. We'll get back to you shortly with everything that is going on there, clearly almost everything.

Coming up for us, as President Trump attempts to make peace with a dictator, he shows no signs of backing down on his attacks against U.S. allies like Canada, the message, there is a special place in hell for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. What is going on here? Details ahead.



BOLDUAN: Ten hours away from history, President Trump sitting down with one of the world's most notorious dictators with world peace hanging in the balance. All of this against the back drop of President Trump making a major break from some of America's closest allies.

The president laying into America's G7 partners from aboard Air Force One on his way to Singapore for the North Korea summit, even calling the Canadian prime minister, quote, "very dishonest and weak."

The president also stunning allies by refusing to sign the G7 statement that the U.S. participated in negotiating in the first place and then his top aides piled on.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, WH NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: He really kind of stabbed us in the back. He really actually, you know what, he did a great disservice to the whole G7.

PETER NAVARRO, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: There is a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.


BOLDUAN: So where do they go from here and what does this mean for the North Korea summit now? Joining me now, Max Boot, CNN global affairs analyst and former senior foreign affairs adviser to Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney during the presidential campaigns.

So, Max, I was reading through your take after the G7, Trump, the G7 and the remarks that there had been a betrayal and a special place in hell for people who negotiated in bad faith with President Trump.

And here's what you wrote, "No U.S. officials have ever spoken this way about any U.S. ally ever. These are the kind of words that normally precede military action." Is that where you see this heading? What do you mean, Max?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I trust that Donald Trump is not actually going to start bombing Canada, but that's kind of the way that he is talking. If this were any normal administration, and Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro had said what they said about the head of state of one of our closest allies and neighbors, they would have been fired about 30 seconds after getting off the air.

But, of course, in this administration, they're go to be rewarded because they're saying what Donald Trump believes, which is that he long has been opposed our entire alliance system, he thinks our allies are ripping us off.

[11:20:04] He thinks that all of our trade relationships are bad deals. Now all of that is false, but these are the misguided beliefs that Donald Trump came into office with and he's acting on those beliefs by essentially destroying the American led world order that we created after 1945.

BOLDUAN: Well, also, on the most basic level, if those strong words are coming from your advisers, you would assume it was pretty clear what was so offensive -- what was said to offend the president and I don't think that necessarily is.

Let me play what Justin Trudeau said in the press conference that seems to be in question from Saturday. Listen to this.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: I highlighted directly to the president that Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum industry, particularly did not take lightly the fact that it is based on a national security reason that for Canadians who either themselves or whose parents or community members stood shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in far off lands and conflicts from the first world war onwards, that it is kind of insulting.


BOLDUAN: So, it is kind of insulting but that's not much different from what Trudeau said in the week leading up to the summit. Let me play it for you.


TRUDEAU: The idea that the Canadian steel that is in military vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminum that makes your fighter jets is somehow now a threat, the idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the united states is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable.


BOLDUAN: What did Justin Trudeau say to so offend Donald Trump?

BOOT: Well, that's a great question, Kate. I mean, in fact, you would have to say that the Canadian prime minister as you would expect of Canadians has acted very calmly and politely to these series of unprovoked attacks from the president of the United States.

I mean, remember Donald Trump started this by declaring that Canada is a national security threat to the United States which is crazy and then imposing these high tariffs that are probably illegal under the World Trade Organization on aluminum and steel.

And you know, all that Justin Trudeau basically did was he said we are not going to take this laying down. We are going to retaliate with our own tariffs and then Donald Trump threw a hissy fit on his way to Singapore and sent off tweets, very ill-mannered offensive tweets saying very weak and dishonest.

And then his aides magnify that with this deranged rhetoric about how there is a special place in hell for Justin Trudeau. This is not a dispute where there is equal blame on both sides. This is truly Donald Trump having another unhinged moment.

BOLDUAN: I'm trying to figure out, if it was so offensive, it would have been so offensive a week ago when Trudeau sat down with -- when Trudeau sat down with Chuck Todd. Like, Trudeau's position hasn't changed. But then you have -- then I wonder -- then also is this all about Singapore and just, I don't know, positioning? Because listen to what -- let me play what Larry Kudlow said just yesterday.


KUDLOW: He is not going to permit any show of weakness on the trip to negotiate with North Korea nor should he --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, this was about North Korea?

KUDLOW: Of course, it was in large part.

TAPPER: Because Trudeau said that as Trump was going to Singapore --

KUDLOW: One thing leads to another.

TAPPER: I see, OK.

KUDLOW: They're all related. Kim must not see American weakness.


BOLDUAN: Of course, it was in large part. It seems like we all should know this. Is this what it is all about?

BOOT: It doesn't make any sense. This is Larry Kudlow trying to add some after the fact explanation to another one of Donald Trump's senseless tirades. The notion that Donald Trump and his aides beating up on America's closest ally is going to help his negotiating position in Singapore, that makes zero sense.

Because the way we're going to get a better deal out of countries like North Korea, Iran, Russia, others, is having alliance unity against them and Donald Trump is undermining that.

And moreover, he just had one major failed summit with the G7 and Canada, and it is putting pressure on him not to have a second failed summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

So, this is actually strengthening Kim Jong-un's negotiating position. As usual, these White House talking points make no sense because they're trying to explain a president who is essentially irrational.

BOLDUAN: Well, let's see what happens because they're going to be sitting down face to face with nothing other than the translators in the room with them for something like two hours is what it is looking like.

BOOT: Heaven help us.

BOLDUAN: We will see, Max. Be the eternal optimist like you never have been. Great to see you, Max. Thank you. I really appreciate it.

[11:25:10] Coming up for us, Republican lawmakers speak out in defense of Canada and against President Trump on what Max and I are just talking about. Is he going to listen? Has he ever? And what are they going to do about it when he doesn't listen? A key Republican lawmaker joins me next.


BOLDUAN: It was supposed to be a meeting between friendly nations and ended up being anything but. In the aftermath of the wild weekend at the G7 Summit, some members of the president's own party are speaking up and reaching out to America's allies.

Senator John McCain putting out a statement saying that Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn't. Senator Ben Sass calling out President Trump saying that the path to more trade begins with less finding on the global stage.

Senator Jeff Flake, pleading with the Republican Party, fellow Republicans, this is not who we are, this cannot be our party. And then this from Senator Lindsey Graham.